Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on August 22nd, 2011 at 11:03 am
(Photos © J. Maus)
On Saturday I joined my six-year old daughter Danica for a ride to Smith and Bybee Lakes. It’s an easy ride to a beautiful destination that should be on everyone’s list. It’s also a route the benefits from the Bureau of Transportation’s ongoing effort to create a network of low-stress bikeways in North Portland.
Danica just turned six and she was eager to break in her new bike (a 20-inch Jamis Capri we got from North Portland Bike Works) with a real ride. At about 15 miles for the round trip, it was her longest bike ride ever.
From the Piedmont Neighborhood near Peninsula Park, we rolled out via Bryant Blvd, a low-traffic, neighborhood greenway street with speed bumps, sharrows, and directional signage. We’re pretty spoiled in Portland, as it just so happened that our destination — the Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area — was printed on a sign about 1.5 miles from the house.
On the way out, I decided to take N. Willamette Blvd., which isn’t the recommended route (the bike lane isn’t super wide and car speeds are on the high side), but it’s the way I’ve always gone. After a brief roll on Willamette, we turned North on Portsmouth, a wide and tree-lined street that leads straight to Columbia Blvd. Once across Columbia, the route is pretty much carfree all the way to the lakes.
A multi-use path (the Peninsula Crossing Trail that’s part of the 40 Mile Loop) rolls around a wastewater treatment plant (which can be smelly depending on which way the wind blows), up and over the Columbia Slough, and then continues north on Portland Road.
On Portland Rd, we not only had a carfree place to ride, we also picked as many blackberries as we could carry…
The last bit of traffic you’ve got to contend with a crossing of Portland Rd; but thankfully PBOT has installed a crossing treatment that makes things much easier. With overhead signage, zebra striping and a refuge island, cars naturally tend to slow down and stop when people are present.
Once across Portland Rd., we spread out and enjoyed a carfree ride into the wildlife area. Bikes aren’t allowed on the paved trails inside the park, so we locked up and walked in the rest of the way.
On the way home, I decided to experience PBOT’s new neighborhood greenway network. But first, with temps well into the 90s, we swung through New Columbia (via N. Fiske) and stopped at the McCoy Park Fountain.
From there, it was easy to find the bike streets. Once on N. Dana, we followed sharrow markings that led to Wabash. Wabash took us back to Bryant, which led us right back home.
It was the first time I’d tried the North Portland neighborhood greenways. As an alternate to Willamette, I was glad to have the easy of bike signage and the aid of traffic calming on our side.
Smith and Bybee lakes is a great destination. With the aid of low-traffic streets, multi-use paths, and neighborhood greenways, it’s fun and pleasurable for all types of riders — even my six-year old!